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WWDC 2017: The Official Recap

Apple’s WWDC 2017 started yesterday with the customary keynote address by Tim Cook and our crystal ball was spot-on about some of the announcements. Needless to say, it was quite an action-packed event and there were so many new hardware and software announcements to keep up with. Apple finally showed some love to the MacBook and iMac line of hardware, giving significant upgrades to their software lineup.

If you missed out on the WWDC 2017 keynote address, here is an in-depth review of the major announcements.

MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac Pro and High Sierra

Apple announced hardware and software improvements to nearly every laptop in the product line. It might be just a bit of a specification upgrade but it’s a lot of juice kicked into the already blazing fast 2016 MacBook and MacBook Pros.

macOS High Sierra
 

The 2017 MacBooks will all be getting a dose of the latest 7th Generation Intel processor codenamed “Kaby Lake”. The variant of Kaby Lake processors that they would be getting will be packed with a new i7 chip that is clocked between 1.3GHz and 3.6GHz. The new solid state drives (SSDs) included in the new MacBooks will also provide double the speed thanks to the upgrades to the filing system and the introduction of High Sierra (more on that later). They will also support twice the memory of the 2016 versions.

Now if you happened to buy a MacBook Pro especially the model with the shiny new Touch Bar after it was announced last October, we feel for you. This upgrade is a kick in the gut. To add insult to your already grievous injury, the 2017 MacBooks will now start at $1,299 instead of $1,499 and will be packing a new 500-nit Retina display.

Just so you know, when we checked the Apple website this morning, the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2015 version is no longer available for sale on the Apple website, the 15-inch version is still available to fill your full USB port needs. That about covers the hardware announcements.

Apple also decided to take Sierra higher in features and utility and announced, well we kid you not, ”High Sierra”. The name no matter how uninspired it sounds is quite apt because High Sierra is pretty much a significant upgrade to what Sierra already is. In the words of Craig Federighi, Apple SVP, it is about deeper integration of technology and refinement of Sierra.

 

The major updates available in High Sierra are summarized as follows:

 

  • Safari will be the “fastest desktop browser” running on High Sierra. The new souped-up Safari will be running a JavaScript engine that is 80% speedier than what Chrome offers at present.

    Safari will also offer new auto-play blocking features. We expect this to reduce the number of awkward NSFW incidences at work places around the world. This is one highly welcomed new feature.

    Intelligent Tracking Prevention will also enable Safari to learn, identify, and block web trackers with that may be obtaining private information.

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  • High Sierra will also feature Apple File System that is completely 64-bit, APFS will be the standard for iOS also with Apple now dropping support for 32-bit phones. APFS is touted to bring significant improvements to speed, functionality and responsiveness. High Sierra now supports the new H.256 standard for videos. APFS will also lead to improved security, crash-prevention protocols and easier data backup on macOS.
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  • Photos app in High Sierra has been upgraded to include a persistent sidebar to preview pictures. All photo imports will now be displayed in a view that is in order of time imported.
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  • Apple also announced two new software development kits, Metal 2 and Metal VR to help developers develop more advanced Assisted Reality applications for the macOS and iOS. This marks the beginning of promising times for consumers in the Apple ecosystem. Steam VR SDK and two of the slickest game development engines, Unreal and Unity are also going to be available on the Mac by Fall. They announced it using a super cool Star Wars VR demo during their keynote. We geeked out over it quite a bit, check it out…
  • If you were thinking of buying a MacBook, we’d like to have a penny for your thoughts. You might have to squeeze out for the updated GPU on the 15-in MacBook Pro if you are heavy on graphic capacity. Compared to the 2016 Skylake-running MacBooks, it is just a small specification upgrade, enough to make a difference in everyday use but nothing major. Overall, it is still a better deal than the 2016 versions so you will be getting more bang for your bucks.

    We aren’t expecting Apple to crank out increased RAM, storage or significant display upgrades to the MacBook line anytime soon but between the Kaby Lake processors and High Sierra, now is a great time to consider shelling out for a new MacBook.

    For the first time in a long while, the iMac also got upgrades; a shiny new display, more blazing processors and top-of-the-line graphic chips. The most interesting part of the iMac announcement was the preview of a new high-performance, “pretty badass” according to Tim Cook, dark grey iMac Pro. This monster is fully loaded with up to 18 processor cores, 27 inches of blindingly bright display suited in a dark grey sleek finish.

    As amazing as the specifications sound, the price is enough to scare those of feeble hearts. We’re talking $4,999 and beyond for this bad boy. It is truly designed and intended for the best of the best Pro users, everyone else can just admire and walk away in tears. This badass deserves a badass Pro user, nothing less.

    Overall, it was a solid performance from Apple and an indication that there are interesting times ahead especially in the space of VR and AR on the macOS. The MacBooks also will not be lacking for power now and they now pack better graphic processors. High Sierra will be available as a beta in the coming weeks while the free update is expected to ship later in the year, usually around Fall.

    iOS 11 Gets New Features

    The next version of Apple’s brains behind the iPhone is going to be packed with many new features that cut across ease of use, financial dexterity and even file storage. Here are some of the best things to look out for in iOS 11:

    iOS 11

  • iMessages will now enjoy better synchronization between all your devices. Log in to a new device and watch your iMessage feeds get updated almost immediately. iMessage will also use less storage space in iOS 11 by archiving old pictures and media sent through iMessages to the cloud.
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  • Apple Pay plans to support Person-to-Person money transfer using iMessage, and a new payment card exclusive to Apple Pay called “Apple Pay Cash” card. You can even request or send money right from iMessage and move it to your bank account or use it for other payments. Apple Pay Cash is going to go head-to-head with Venmo which is the industry leader in P2P mobile payments. We foresee interesting times ahead in the mobile payment sphere.
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  • Siri can now translate your questions or requests into other languages. Updates to the SiriKit means develops will now be able to integrate Siri to third-party apps, giving it much needed superpowers. Siri will also be a faster learner, “reading” text on your screen to learn new words from there, speak in a more human voice and add different tones to the same word. Too much learning? You might have to slow down on the NSFW webpages you’ve been visiting as this could lead to more interesting autocorrect fails. We look forward to Siri the Scholar eagerly.
     

  • The Camera app got some much-needed updates to support high-efficiency video coding that will let you take better pictures for less space. Live photos will now become editable. You can select a key photo, edit or loop a Live Photo or even set up long exposure for more awesome Live Photos. Most notable in iOS 11 announcements was the introduction of a new technology for processing images called High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF). The far-reaching implication of this is that JPEG is being kicked to the curb in favor of this new format that promises a reduction in file sizes without loss of quality.
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  • Control Center finally gets a redesign that supports on 3D Touch. You can now have everything in one pane and get complete editing capabilities. You can also rearrange toggles to make system changes.
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  • Apple Maps now comes with a Do Not Disturb While Driving Feature. This is going to save a lot of lives. Your iPhone screen will now be pitch black when driving, this means more drivers will stay focused on the road. Repeat callers will even be discouraged by an auto notification that will tell them you’re driving. Indoor maps will also be introduced to major outdoor centers like shopping malls and airports. Now you’re even more unlikely to miss your flight.
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  • AirPlay 2 is the next level from AirPlay and will offer multi-room audio streaming and easier control via Control Center, the Home app and Siri.
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  • App Store will see a redesign with a more paned view, Updates, Today, Games and Search all get their own tabs at the bottom of the screen. App developers will also get more features to play with. These include a new phased releases feature that will make planning major updates easier for developers with more space for promo art and better in-app purchases.
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    iOS 11 is going to be the most highly anticipated update in recent times due to the number of new features included, most of these features were not even announced during the keynote but early beta testers are seeing these surprises already.

    HomePod or the Siri Speaker (as rumors had it)

    Apple unveiled a Siri-powered music speaker that will be launching in December, the first time the company will be launching a new product category since the Apple Watch in 2014.

    Apple HomePod

    The HomePod is a sleek-looking device, trust Apple to deliver on looks. The HomePod is curiously not being positioned as a voice-controlled Wifi assistant like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. It is not only higher-priced but also being touted for its sound quality and not the Siri power. It seems to be going after high-end speaker makers like Sonos and Bang & Olufsen. This is a typical Apple move, premium products at high price points.

    The HomePod features a high-definition speaker powered by a seven-tweeter system for true surround sound. Add the 40 million plus songs from Apple Music and you have one potentially sweet money maker for Apple. The speaker is going to be controlled by Siri’s AI through six unique microphones and a specially-built A8 chip. We expect that later in the future, there will be more focus on its virtual assistance capabilities. Right now, the HomePod is a $350 personal DJ who knows all the right notes to get you in the mood and we love it already. It will come in two colors; Space Grey and White.

    The Best of the Rest: tvOS, watchOS, and iPad Pro 10.5″

    tvOS got more features and faster app performance. The most newsworthy here is that Amazon and Apple have kissed and made up so AppleTV gains Amazon Prime Video while the Amazon Marketplace will resume selling Apple TVs, pretty much a win-win. More updates are promised later in the year. Not much to see here, moving along.

    Apple tvOS
     

    watchOS 4 will bring better workout controls, more intuitive notifications and will be better compatible with gym equipment from major manufacturers. You also get more Disney faces and a special Siri face that will continuously update your watch face with details of daily meetings, reminders, news and anything else that may be going on with your day at that time. We expect to see watchOS 4 in the Fall along with more upgrades to the Apple Watch, series 3 maybe? With Apple, expect the unexpected.

    Apple watchOS
     

    iPad Pro 10.5 inches came to play. It will feature a thinner bezel and a full-sized keyboard for professional users. Expect faster response, a richer display and 64 GB now the lowest storage size. For just $649, you can have one next week.

    New iPad Pro 10.5 inch
     

    There you have it! Everything from WWDC 2017 without sitting through a 2-hour keynote address. Share your thoughts with us in the comment section. What were you most excited about?